Laurie Oakes: Bloggers will take mainstream media on a race to the bottom

laurie oakes andrew olleVeteran journalist Laurie Oakes has warned that bloggers are threatening to “push the mainstream media into a race to the bottom”.

The prediction came as part of Oakes’ delivery of the Andrew Olle Media Lecture. Oakes, Nine’s political editor, said:

“This prediction was going to be mine when I drafted my lecture, but I find Julian Disney has beaten me to it. So I‟d better give him credit.

“The Press Council chairman says the greatest challenge is the risk that the blogosphere, with its tendency to rush to judgement and circulate scuttlebutt, will push the mainstream media into a race to the bottom. That, he believes, is the cut-throat competition of the future.

“In Britain, political blogger Guido Fawkes—who happily runs stories without the kind of investigation and verification mainstream journalists are supposed to require– boasts that the news is no longer defined by big media.

“Big media proves that by following him.

“In the US big media follows Matt Drudge and his ilk.

“Of course it will happen here.”

His prediction that “Bloggers will start to usurp the role of determining what is news,” was one of four he gave to the audience.

Two others were that political journalists would be bypassed more and more by politicians using new media to talk directly to the public, and that “Spin will become even more pervasive and powerful”.

His other prediction was “the industrialisation of journalism”.

He predicted: “More stories being produced for more outlets at ever greater speed by fewer people—will gather pace, with consequences unlikely to be pretty.

“The trend overseas is towards more predictable news presented in more uniform formats because this is more efficient. It‟s sometimes described as McJournalism or–in the words of the BBC‟s respected political correspondent Andrew Marr—’bite-sized McNugget journalism’.

“My fear is that tomorrow‟s press gallery will be serving up Happy Meals.”


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